By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
The ACU football team lost its first two games to nationally-ranked teams, face another Top 25 team this weekend and still have one more to go on the season. All that and they still have great attitudes.
“One of the really positive things about this year’s team is our attitude,” Coach Gary Gaines said. “We’ve been behind and we’ve been beaten, but our attitude is that we’re going to win.”
Following losses to No. 5 Central Arkansas and No. 4 California-Davis, ACU heads to No. 7 Tarleton State Saturday. The Texans are 3-0 and first place in the Lone Star Conference North Division.
“They’re an outstanding team,” Gaines said. “They have excellent team speed, they’re sound offensively and they have the best defense we’ve played against so far.”
TSU has eight starters returning on defense. Led by sophomore linebacker Travis Day, the Tarleton defense has surrendered a mere seven points on the season, including just 159 yards passing and -27 yards rushing. Opponents have averaged only 53 yards of total offense per game.
Opposite the ball stands the Wildcat offense, a run-oriented attack. Senior running back Eric Polk has averaged 109 yards a game and has one touchdown on the season thus far.
“Running the football is the best thing we’ve done so far,” junior offensive lineman Britt Lively said. “We also need to get the passing game going to have some balance against Tarleton.”
Gaines said ACU would focus on fundamentals and teamwork in preparation for the Texans.
Lively said the Cats would need to take advantage of opportunities they’d missed in the past.
“We’ve had a lot of chances to score and we didn’t,” he said. “It’s time to capitalize on some of those opportunites and win some games.”
And for ACU, winning hinges on attitude.
“The last two games have been tough, and it’s not fun to win,” Lively said. “But our attitude’s been great. We’re planning on winning, and we know we’ve got to be positive about it.”
“We’ve left everything out on the field two games in a row,” he said. “I can’t be upset about that. We’ve worked hard this week and prepared well. We have the attitude that we’re going to beat them.”